2013 has been a big year in Inverness for dance music. From the likes of Polymath, Count Clockwork and Mark Mackenzie releasing some really good and highly respectable tracks, to Filth, Get With It, State of Grace, Ruckus Rave, Justice Never Sleeps and Let’s Go amongst many others putting on some great nights throughout the year.

A special mention to Soundclash for managing the very popular Monster FM DJ takeover on Friday and Saturday nights during September as well as their pre & after show parties.

Karma Lounge Inverness continues to be at the forefront of all things dance in Inverness with several great nights being put on there on a near weekly basis.

Xmas number 1 contender Mark Archer, better known as one half of old skool rave act Altern 8 made an appearance at Karma back in February.

Scottish dub-techno duo Clouds tore Karma a new one in April, since then, Clouds have gone from strength to strength in 2013. Releasing one of the techno albums of the year in ‘Ghost System Rave’ and also signing to Soma Records, the Clouds boys went on to have a hell of a year.

Inverness night ‘Ruckus Rave’ held a DJ competition in April for a chance to support Italian techno giants Phunk Investigation at their forthcoming May gig at Karma. The competition was won by Marc Hilton of Ullapool and Neil Fleming of Edinburgh who supported Phunk Investigation on the night.

Let’s Go have established themselves in Inverness as a respected club night, and they were responsible for the Rockness pre-party at Karma which got everyone hyped up for the Rockness festival. Over the course of the year Let’s Go have put on some great nights and that should continue in 2014.

Filth DJ’s Ross Lyall and Andrew McGibbon are legends on the Inverness circuit and this year they celebrated 5 years together as Filth with a huge night at Karma in June. They also packed out Karma at Halloween this year alongside Moray DJ, M-Stell. Karma Lounge were also responsible for bringing in respected underground artists such as Sub Club heroes Harri & Domenic, Nick Harris, Groovebox, Debukas and Jamie Anderson.

Festival favourite and all round good guy Benji Boko took his live show up north to Karma in November and he quite literally took Karma to the next level!

The amount of work the guys at Karma Lounge put in to providing a hang-out and a great night for underground dance DJ’s and clubbers often gets overlooked, all I can say is keep up the great work.

Several big names in dance music also appeared at the Ironworks in 2013. In April, Filth put on a night which saw French Electronic act Vitalic make a very rare live band appearance. Techno legend Dave Clarke took to the Ironworks decks on the Mayday weekend to blow away yet another crowd with his now famous relentless style. Other popular names in dance who also made the journey up to the Ironworks this year were Fake Blood, Mylo and Sister Bliss.

Them & Us Lifes Too Short HootsDance music wasn’t just restricted to Karma and The Ironworks though. Hootananny’s played host to Life’s Too Short a series of midweek nights over the summer put on by , Them&Us which saw the joined by an array of DJ’s from Ally McCrae to Crew Love. In September, Bogbain Farm was the venue for an epic 12 hour DJ marathon where DJ’s from around Scotland played.

The summer weather was especially kind to us for the Rockness Festival in June. Dance music was well represented for the 3 day event in Dores, from Commercial dance acts such as Basement Jaxx, Steve Aoki & Madeon, to local talent such as Them & Us and the Filth DJ’s.

SOMA Arcadia Armadillo Stage at Rockness 2013One of the many highlights of the weekend and a great chance to soak up the sun (or cool off the sunburn at night) was the Arcadia Armadillo which was curated by Soma Records.The Armadillo was a slight transformation of the famous Afterburner stage which had been at previous Rockness weekends and I personally felt it was an improvement on the Afterburner.Techno heavyweights Pan-Pot, Gary Beck, Hans Bouffmyhre, Clouds, Joris Voorn and Len Faki all provided the sounds for what was a definite masterstroke from the Rockness organisers.

Soma’s Glasgow pals The Sub Club were not to be undone though with their arena at the festival. Some of the biggest names in dance appeared at the ‘subby’ tent including Julio Bashmore, Scuba, Carl Craig and Huxley & Jackmaster (who was a highlight of mine).

On the Sunday of Rockness though, the Sub Club tent was transformed into the Red Bull tent, where DJ competition winner, and now Inverness night Let’s Go resident Aaron Russell played a set. Overall the weekend was a success and left revellers instantly wanting to return for 2014.

Another festival success story was the Mothers Ruin stage at Belladrum Festival.The stage, which has been at the festival since 2009, brings together a mostly local selection of talented acts and DJ’s.The likes of Count Clockwork, Them&Us, Radio 1’s Ally McRae, Alottarhythm, Ally Ridgers, Alan Grant and many others all play sets over the weekend.Mothers Ruin is one of the stages that is most talked about after the festival and will only continue to improve.

So that’s my review of 2013, it was a pretty big one for dance music in Inverness. Things are looking very promising for an even bigger 2014.